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Boundary map affirms intact school communities

 

By a 4-0 vote on June 25, the governing board of the Sequoia Union High School District made significant changes to the high school boundary maps, changes that will affect the lives of thousands of high school students in the years ahead.

The new map, which goes into effect at the start of the 2015-16 school year, makes good on promises to the community of the Las Lomitas and Ravenswood City elementary school districts.

For Las Lomitas families, all households are now assigned to Menlo-Atherton High School, including those in Atherton and Woodside currently assigned to Woodside High. These families have had a right of first refusal to attend M-A; the new map makes exercising that privilege unnecessary with the start of the 2015-16 school year.

The situation is similar for Ravenswood families. The map assigns every household in East Palo Alto to M-A, where they can join their classmates from the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park. The board is also allowing East Palo Alto students exclusive transfer privileges to M-A for the coming school year, if there is room. Families must apply for the transfer.

The map denies some residents north of 8th Avenue in North Fair Oaks who wanted continued assignment to M-A, but it eases the change. Households being reassigned will have 15 years of privileges to attend the former school.

Go to tinyurl.com/SEQ-222 and turn to Pages 12 and 13 for details on the board's actions.

East Palo Alto

M-A has always been accessible to East Palo Alto students through the Sequoia district's open enrollment policy. But the number of transfer requests often exceeded available space, resulting in a lottery. They can now skip the lottery.

For 30 years, East Palo Alto students have been bused to Woodside High or Carlmont High, a program that began in the 1980s with a court order to the Sequoia district to align the ethnic demography of each school with the demography of the district.

The board's action in October 2013 came amid deliberations on what to do about projections of an enrollment surge over the next seven years, much of it coming from the Menlo Park and Las Lomitas elementary districts.

At Sequoia district community meetings in 2013 to discuss the surge, built-out campuses and possible revisions to the map in response to the surge, parents were unequivocal to officials about the importance of keeping middle-school communities intact.

That message hit home and became an abiding priority among Sequoia district officials in revising the map.

The addition of Ravenswood students to M-A is expected to be a wash in terms of its effect on enrollment, given the reassignment of North Fair Oaks households north of 8th Avenue to Sequoia High.

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